We are speechless. After multiple nominations and losses, starting back in 2014 – we were like, the Leo Dicaprios of the Hugo Awards – THE BOOK SMUGGLERS WON A HUGO AWARD FOR BEST FANZINE LAST NIGHT!

WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT! WHAT A DELIGHT! (Yes, we know that rhymes.)

We are overwhelmed, incredibly touched, and hugely thankful to everybody who voted for us. This means a lot to the both of us.

However we must say it has also been a bittersweet win in many aspects. We are far away from each other, our celebratory hugs and high fives were granted virtually – which is awesome, and necessary, given the global pandemic. Above all, in spite of our personal happiness and being thrilled for all the amazing winners, we are deeply unsettled with many aspects of the awards ceremony. (We do appreciate all of the effort that went into making a completely virtual awards show happen, which is a thankless and doomed-at-the-outset endeavor.) Technology issues aside, many parts of the show were uncomfortable, and downright enraging, to watch.

George RR Martin was the host this year and in between his pre-recorded messages and his live performance, he sadly managed to somehow be simultaneously boring, infuriatingly oblivious (we are going with this perhaps too-gracious reading), yet often offensive. Even if we were to overlook the mispronunciations of several nominee names (all finalists were required to provide a phonetic pronunciation guide that got lost, we guess?), Our major source of frustration was Martin’s blithe praise of several known fascist, racist, and sexist authors in what can only be described as this overlong, bloated, egotistical white-dude fest that glorified a past that should no longer be glorified when we have right here, RIGHT NOW such an amazing, forward-thinking, diverse SFF community who should be the ones being glorified and celebrated. (We mean, just listen to the winners’ speeches, especially the powerful words from RF Kuang, Chimedum Ohaegbu, Jeannette Ng, and SL Huang – but seriously, virtually every winner had something important and, yes, political to say.)

…. and breathe!

Back to our celebration! The full list of winners can be found here and if you want to check out the ceremony and hear the amazing speeches given by the winners, Chelsea or TheReadingOutlaw did the amazing work of editing the ceremony to remove the toastmaster’s bits and you can watch it all here. Our bit starts at 17 minutes and you can watch Thea delivering our speech.

But for easy and accessible reference, here is our written speech:

We are being wholly, utterly honest when we say HOLY GUACAMOLE, we did not see this coming. Thank you, fellow fans, readers, writers, and creators so much.

We know that it can be frowned upon to be Political at the Hugos, but we also know that everything is political, so f that. We have been running The Book Smugglers for over ten years, as two loud, opinionated women on the internet – one of us Filipino-American and the other Brazilian. We have been giving space for diverse voices to be heard, read, and seen, and we know now that is even more important now than it has ever been, in the fight for social justice in the face of fascism, systemic oppression, and racism around the world. Black lives matter.

So thank you so much for this award – our very first Hugo. Thank you for seeing us, for hearing us, for believing that our work matters.

Thank you to all of our fellow nominees, and to our regular contributors – especially Charles Payseur and AC Wise.

Thank you to all of the readers and friends who have supported us throughout the years. To everyone who keeps coming back to read The Book Smugglers – we are nothing without you. Special shoutout to Sparkle Rocket and to the Filipino contingent at the Hugos.

It’s also worth mentioning that Ana is now the first Brazilian to ever win a Hugo. (Valeu Brasil!)

Finally, a huge thank you to the television show Lost–Without which The Book Smugglers would never have happened.

Thank you again, from the bottom of our SFF-loving hearts, and remember to stay safe, wash your hands, and wear a mask.

Thank you.

The Book Smugglers

The Book Smugglers are Ana Grilo and Thea James: a duo of awesomely badass book nerds. We specialize in speculative fiction and pop geekery for all ages since 2008, and have been publishing speculative fiction and nonfiction since 2014.



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